We just got back from our trip to London, Edinburgh and Ireland. We had a super time. I researched the counties for a full year, with help from this site and many of you were so kind as to answer all my questions. We land in Heathrow and decided to take the underground to the Victoria station. It was easy. We went to Hammersmith, then changed to the Victoria line which was a platform change, literally two steps to the other side of the tracks. Very easy and quick. Not crowded and very cheap. I was traveling with my parents who are in their late sixties, but they did fine with it too. We checked in to the Lime Tree Hotel. Great choice, as the location is super. we then took the bus #11 and rode to the Liverpool station to get the lay of the land. On the way back we got off at Westminster and walked to Parliament, Big Ben, up to Downing Street and the Horse Guard, then to Trafalgar Square and then back to Westminster Abbey and back to the Victoria area. That was a lot for the first day, but it got us acclimated to the time change and we were ready to sleep that night.
Day Two: we headed to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards, but it was closed to the public due to the bleachers being there from the concert for the queen's jubilee. We then headed to the Churchill War Rooms. It was fantastic. It was easily one of our favorite parts of the trip. Then on to the Tower of London. Had a Beefeater that was really funny and made the tour enjoyable. The Crown Jewels were amazing.
Day Three we caught a tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath from the Victoria Coach Station. It was a good way to see those three sites. The weather was miserable, making Stonehenge a disappointment, but guides were knowledgeable and pleasant and they provided the transportation.
Day Four: We tried at Buckingham Palace again and we did get to see the changing of the guards. We had a good place to stand right by the fence. It was pretty cool! We walked through Regent's Park to see the Queen's roses and then on to Picadilly Circus and Chinatown.
Day Five: We took the underground to Kings Cross Station to catch the train to Edinburgh. We were an hour early and there was a train leaving so we hopped on. Beautiful scenery, especially from York on. Arrived in Edinburgh and loved all the buildings. They all look like they came straight out of Harry Potter. Our apartment was on Hanover Street right off Princes Street. We dropped off our luggage and walked to the Royal Mile. Did the Scotch Whisky Experience. It was cool to see the largest whisky collection in the world. When we walked out there was a huge crowd gathering and come to find out it was the Olympic torch being run in to Edinburgh so we joined the masses and watched that occur.
Day Six: We took the bus tour and road it around one and listened to the commentary, then the second time around we got off at the castle. It is spectacular and then rode to Holyroodhouse Palace. We also loved that, especially the ruins of the abbey.
Day Seven: We made our way to High Street to meet a day tour to St. Andrews. It was pouring rain and very windy, but we went anyway. We had a quick tour of the fishing villages in the kingdom of Fife, then on to St Andrews. Got to see the college where Prince William and Kate went, then on to the golf course for lunch in the clubhouse, then to the golf museum, then putted on the green in the storm, and walked on the beach where Chariots of Fire was filmed.
Day Eight: Made our way to the airport by the Airlink bus which meets in front of Waverley Train Station. It was cheap and one comes every ten minutes. We flew to Shannon Ireland on Aer Lingus. We arrived in Shannon to find that the automatic van we had rented (6 of us) had been returned with two ruined wheels. They only had a manual van, which we didn't want. So we got two cars instead. It meant two of us needed to drive and for the rest of the week we had to follow each other, which was a bit of a hassel. Driving was very difficult when we got out in the rural areas by Doolin where our cottage was. The narrow streets are treacherous, especially when a tour bus wants to pass you. Doolin was adorable. Brightly colored buildings, neat shops and great pubs. We loved O'Conner's, McGanns and McDermotts. Also ate at Fitzpatrick's. All excellent food and atmosphere and traditional music at night. We walked the Cliffs of Moher, went to the Aran Islands, went home from the Aran Islands by way of the Cliffs and saw all the birds and puffins hanging on the rock. I will never forget that sight. I think one must see the Cliffs from the top and the bottom. My husband, dad and our friend golfed at Doonbeg Golf Course and had a great time. We went to Ballyvaughan via the coastal road and loved the view. One day we drove to Galway and walked on Quay Street, Eyre Square and the Spanish arch. We also had lunch in Kinvara. Another day we drove the Burren and sent to the sheep herding demonstration by the ring fort stop and also did the Birds of Prey Exhibit. We loved Doolin Cave. It was the 3rd longest stalactite in the world. Only Lebanon and Brazil have a longer one. The last night we drove to Shannon Town and checked into Oak Wood Arms hotel (very nice) and went to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. It was a nice area and we decided to do the medieval banquet that night. It was great. Good food, excellent singing and fun atmosphere. I thought it might seem fakey, but it was fun.
The people in all three countries couldn't have been any more friendly. They were helpful with questions and directions. The scenery was gorgeous and the tourist sites were all well taken care of. The food was delicious in every place we ate. We had a super time. The only downfall was the dollar, but that wasn't to be helped. If you have questions on anything please ask and thanks to all of you who helped me.